Brandy Klark (Aubrey Plaza) is a goal-orientated, straight A student in 1993 with one major thing lacking–her sexual education. See, she is a virgin. Not only hasn’t she gotten to first base, she hasn’t even made it to the parking lot of the ballpark. With the freshman year of college coming up, and the sexapalooza that will be, she decides to use the summer after her senior year of high school to play catch up. She pursues the goal of a deeper sexual experience with the same tact she applies to her studies, which she soon finds out is not the best way to go.
This should sound familiar to you if you are of a certain age. The teenage sex comedy was very popular in the 80s and this film is a loving homage to that genre, so much so that you can check off the tropes as you go along. Actors who are at least ten years older than the characters they are playing? Check. Clueless, comic relief parents? Check. Slacker mentor/boss? Check. Antagonistic older sibling? Check. Friends who support the quest until they feel alienated by it? Check. The hero pursuing the person of their dreams, only to find out they are the wrong one after all? Check.
But somethings do change over the years. Don’t come here looking for the topless scenes that were so common place in the 80s comedies, you perv. No, in this film all the ladies make whoopie with their bras on. In exchange, an R rating brings us not one, but two scenes where a certain bodily fluid makes its appearance. Also, the candy bar in the pool scene from Caddyshack is referenced, only this time its not a candy bar.
But if the vulgarity doesn’t bother you, you might just be entertained. There are more than a few laughs along with the shocks. As a person who spent a fair amount of time in bars in the early 90s, and have heard a lot of bar bands during that time, the scene where our heroes see a Pearl Jam-esque “original” band at a local venue made me laugh about how spot on it was.
And the fact that this was written and directed by a woman, Maggie Carey, adds a unique perspective to the genre, and the film tries to make a point about casual sex versus love, which was interesting. The acting, once you get past the noticeable age difference mentioned above, is of a high quality. Especially, Plaza, whose role is extraordinarily challenging and calls for an unusual amount of daring in an actress. She was more than up to the challenge.
So, The To Do List is your typical 80s sex comedy with the raunch levels amped up to 11. It might not offer anything all that new to the genre, but its still a good representation of the grace notes the sex comedies offer.